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Audioengine A5+ Review

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 


Audioengine A5+ Review



Thanks to Advanced Headphones for the sample (AMP3’s sister site)




First impressions:  Okay, next to the A2 there things are friggin’ huge.  Not sure I’m loving the in white look but if id paid money for them are you may or may not then you only get white if you want it.  I’m not sure I’m loving the off centre tweeter, I know many do it but I just don’t like that.  What I do like is the packaging, it’s a nice touch to have everything in little bags but as a friend pointed out “so why didn’t they put the plug in one too?”  I suspect it’s because it’s a UK plug, not that it matters but why not it?  All the cables and such are in there which is a very nice touch.  I think an all in one solution should be just that and there is nothing worse than not having that cable you need when you buy a new toy. 


First listening and its not really doing it for me.  Granted these are literally fresh out of the box so nothing is definitive.  However I’m not sure I like how these are tuned.  Seeing as Audioengine suggested giving them 50 hours to open up I guess I’d better get started.





Set up:  Computer to FiiO E9 and E7 combo feeding the line out into the A5+.


Lows:  Hmm, not to my tastes.  I really don’t know why these have been tuned how they have as it seem unnecessary to me, they have a big bombastic low end  and frankly it gets in my way.  It’s a big hump of punch and rambunctiousness that just constantly wants to go wild.  It’s like a teenage dog (in dog years) that pretty much fully grow, yet has so much boundless enthusiasm that it cannot stop from pulling on the lead.  It yearns to go run and play.  It’s cute on a dog on a speaker it’s not.  Granted I’m a bit of a boring old fart and I tend to prefer music that’s a little bit boring.  I don’t want a party beast blasting out Lady whomever, Christina what’s her face or that Perrier woman.  It loves to take pre-eminence and it shouldn’t.  Frankly it really annoys me. 


You’ll notice I haven’t said anything fit quality yet.  Now given I dislike how it’s tuned and behaves, if I can set that aside the technical abilities of it are reasonable.  There is little softness or bass bleed.  It likes to hit hard and move quickly so that ability deserves praise but it’s not a flavour I want.  I can’t help myself, but it’s just all party bass.  Every song it plays its wants to do with party levels of exuberance and I’m sorry but for lots of music it’s just wrong.




Mids:  Meh.  They are good when you can hear them but they clearly are in third place in a 3 way race.  Thos familiar with my stuff will know I love mids, I feel its where all the most important stuff takes place.  Bands don’t stick the drummer at the front of the stage now do they?  Vocals here are acceptably good and they never get entirely lost but they sit behind the lows and highs.  I know many love a big V shaped sound signature but I cannot find the love for it.  If I was back being 18, in Halls and wanting to party every night then hell yeah!   That V shaped sound is just what you want.  I know I shouldn’t be judging it as an audiophile product as it not but I am and it is hard to be utterly objective on such a subjective subject.


Tonally they a touch on the liquid and warm side.  Male vocals in particular seem to get a little boost in the low end that they really should not.  Nothing awful but shouldn’t be there.  Girly vocals do better.  Warmed and softened a touch, not so good though at airy and breathy stuff. 




Highs:  Crispy.  Shimmer and shine these don’t do so well but they really aim more a sparkle and dazzle approach.  The highs cut through crisply and cleanly and it gives a great dramatic impression.  As I said previously with these speakers its party time all the time.  Detail retrieval is pretty good but that crisp edge dominates and overshadows things in a way I don’t like.  It feels like a stage magician; look over here not over there.  Again there isn’t really anything I’m going to say is bad, these are just coloured to a point some things work well and some doesn’t.  For the money I can’t fault their treble ability but as I’ve said with much else, if you can’t nail it then maybe you better to dial it down rather than make you short comings readily apparent.



Soundstage:  Here they do rather well, the bigger a speaker the bigger it usually sounds.  These are big enough to sound impressively room filling.  These in that sense are proper stereo speakers rather than “desktop” speakers like their siblings are.  If I was so inclined I’d have no problem with these being the rooms only audio outlet.  Still they are rear ported so remember that means even though they may get called bookshelf speakers you cannot put them on a book shelf.  They need at least 12 inches of air behind them.




Dynamics:  These have no problems whatsoever in rising and falling with aplomb.  In fact I’d say they thrive on it, they love soaring and roaring with the most dramatic sense of urgency.  Is it fun?  Oh hell yes.  Do I like it?  No.  They like much of the rest of the sound of them are all energy and enthusiasm.  That sort of thing does definitely have a place in the world but that place is not in my home.  Still if you give these a bit of welly then they have a grand dynamic range.


Power:  These are clearly built for American homes.  These can go stupid loud with stupid ease.  Actually not only can they go load, they yearn to.  Like a greyhound that longs to given an open field and allowed to go for it.  These have too much power bottled up inside them that it just constantly wants to burst forth and I find it somewhat annoying.  I don’t want a greyhound I want a Jack Russell, happy to sleep all day on the sofa yet capable of incredible energy when it’s appropriate.  These need a big space and if I’m honest, living in a detached house.




Aesthetics:  Right off all I can comment on is the white ones.  Now I don’t know anyone who actually has a home that these would look appropriate in, sure many way love the Apple esq white minimalism thing but who actually has that?  Still if you want white that’s your business.  I can’t deny the finish on them is very nice and visually I can see not the slightest imperfection anywhere.  What’s nice is they don’t leave fingerprints so there should be no trouble maintaining their prettiness.  Could be good for their potential student Hall’s life?


Build and Durability:  Okay these are solid, weighty beasts, super solidly constructed.  Their weight suggests you have an item of substance here.  I cannot actually fault anything as a mistake of construction.  However what gives me pause is the no grill up front.  The FAQ on their site declares the woofers are hardy and tough, Kevlar don’t you know, so you don’t need one.  Well maybe I don’t “need” one but I would rather it my choice.  Otherwise it’s all great and I’m sure they will cope well with the rigors of student parties.




Value:  Well it seems to me that these are often placed in the category of ipod dock rather than anything else.  These really aren’t an ipod dock, for a start they have nowhere to put one, sure there is the usb charging socket so you could very cheaply use one.  This is something more versatile.  It’s a good set of computer speakers too, let’s face it there is no one in the western world who doesn’t have a computer, add this and boom you have an instant HiFi.  A pretty much proper HiFi too, sure it’s aimed at a certain market but you could have this as your desktop speakers as much as you could have this as your full stereo.  Add in a CD player and there you go, grown up HiFi.  No reason why you couldn’t have it hooked into your TV’s audio out.  All flat screen thin TV’s have god awful sound and these could be used to turn it into something very capable.  Sure it’s not 5.1 but many don’t want the clutter or cables for that.  That we have a super versatile little set up is undeniable.  For that alone I’d be inclined to pick this over any dedicated ipod dock like the rCube or Zepplin.  They have basically one use and no stereo separation.  That these cost £288 to me seems rather a bit of a bargain.  They are extremely versatile in the potential applications and have a power and ability that would shame any £300 stereo you’ll find on the high street.  You could do much worse than buying a pair of these.  Pretty damn good value if you ask me.  


Oh and the included remote control is super handy.





Conclusion:  So, I’ve just said how I think these are good value, would I buy one?  No.  Would I want one?  No.  I like a grown up, more sedate sound especially from a speaker and these just want to have party time.  They are filled with energy, power and a boundless enthusiasm, screaming at you, goading you to crank the volume dial.  I don’t want that.   So there is no mistaking that these and I did not get along well and I found myself skipping songs left, right and centre because they just didn’t work for me.  A friend who was round yesterday however found their sound to be just his cup of tea, he is so much more fun than I am, he goes out clubbing on a very regular basis where I go once a quarter if I truly must.  I wanted the A5+ to be a grown up, mature sound that would be happy to anything I asked of it.  A desktop speaker to let me sit and work with some Norah playing softly.  No.  These just can’t do that sort of music, they really rather have a bit of a vacancy in the midrange and what I hear constantly is the music not the vocals.  I want the vocals.  They also really don’t do slow, they just forever want to go faster, punchier more dynamasism, and more volume too. 


No matter what I listened to I never felt like bursting into song and that’s not me.  It’s what I like about speakers and these just frustrated and annoyed me.  Frankly I wanted something grown up and these are 18 year olds.  Party, party, party.  If that sounds like a bit of something you’re interested in then you will probably love these and I do think they would make the perfect student system.  It’s versatile, solid, dynamic and dramatically awesome in every sense.  Just don’t ask it to do mellow and boring, it can’t.

post #2 of 36
Thread Starter 


Audioengine A5+ Quick Review



Thanks to Advanced Headphones for the sample (AMP3’s sister site)


Brief:  Powerful, powered party speakers.


Price: £288


Specification: Type: 2.0 powered (active) bookshelf-style speaker system, Power Output: 150W peak power total (50W RMS / 75W peak per channel), AES Inputs: 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo mini-jack, RCA L/R Outputs: RCA L/R audio (full-range, adjustable), USB Type A (power/charging) Voltages: 115/240V, 50/60Hz manually switchable, Amplifier Type: Dual Class AB monolithic, Drivers: 5" Kevlar woofers, 20mm silk dome tweeters, Signal-to-noise: >95dB (typical A-weighted) THD: <0.05% at all power settings, Crosstalk: <50db, Frequency response: 50Hz-22kHz +/-1.5dB, Input impedance: 10K ohms unbalanced Protection: Protection: Output current limiting, thermal over-temperature, power on/off transient protection, replaceable external main fuse, Dimensions (each speaker HWD): 10.75" (27cm) x 7" (18cm) x 7.75" (20cm) Weight (LEFT speaker): 15.4 lbs (7 kg) Weight (RIGHT speaker): 9.6 lbs (4.4 kg)


Accessories:  Included Accessories: (1) Remote control
(1) Speaker wire (16AWG), 3.75 meters (~12.3ft)
(1) Detachable power cord
(1) Mini-jack audio cable, 2 meters (~6.5ft)
(1) RCA to RCA audio cable, 2 meters (~6.5ft)
(2) Cloth speaker bag
(1) Cloth cable bag
(1) Setup Guide
(1) Product line brochure


Build Quality:  Solid, weighty and feel very well constructed.


Aesthetics:  Colour choice is up to you but they look a quality piece of equipment.  The finish on them it top notch if you like that gloss look.  The minimal use of cables too is a visual boon.


Sound:  Party party , party.  That’s how these speakers are tuned and it’s what they want to do all the time.  I found it rather annoying as most of the time my music listening is while I work and these just got on my nerves.  I didn’t want to crank the volume and dance I wanted a nice, smooth gentle sound and these don’t do that.  They are boisterous and rambunctious.  The bass is fast, hard hitting and punchy.  I want softer and more relaxed.  These would roar and slap you in the face for attention.  The mids in comparison while good were a bit too liquid and they got lost in the melee.  In vocal heavy songs this really frustrated me.  The highs were decent but tuned to be crispy and playful rather than accurate and delicate.  They got on my nerves with the exuberance.  These are really rather V shaped and in a party machine that’s great, it’s probably just what you want but I don’t want that, i want something more grown up and mature sounding.  While I can’t deny these are very capable they are tuned to live in an 18 year olds room not mine.


Value:  Good speaker and amp with a remote, you want this much this good for less i don’t believe.


Pro’s:  Super minimalist, massive power, party machine par excellence


Con’s:  Party sound whether you want to party or not. Too excitable. 

post #3 of 36
Thread Starter 
post #4 of 36

Nice honest review...Thanks.

Edited by krait2777 - 4/26/12 at 6:48am
post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 


post #6 of 36

thanks for this.  saved me from spending $ on speakers I would not have liked

post #7 of 36

I have the A5, and while I don't love them, I think they're pretty fine. I get the sense your are projecting some prejudices onto these speakers. Do they really want you to party hardy with the volume set to 11, or did their marketing department just go a little too far?


I listen to a lot of folk and instrumental music (adult music?). I am looking to upgrade, but I'd be fine with them if I wasn't apart of Head-Fi.  smile.gif

post #8 of 36

LOL this review is so true. I have the A5 and party speakers is exactly what these are. I have these set up with my tv in the living room for movies, shows, video games and basically parties so it suits those needs perfectly. In my room however is where i do my real music listening so im very happy with my Audioengine A5. At first i didnt like the white ones, (wanted the black ones but got these for a good deal) but then i grew to love them and now dont want the black.


Another thing to note is that the A5 has that AC outlet of the back which i think is pretty awesome but the remote may be even more awesome...

post #9 of 36

Ok so I'm actually not into parties... but I love my ballad, folk, and instrumental. I would also say mids are my preferred level by far and with a slight disdain for bass.Can or would anyone suggest a alternative at similar prices that is more complimentary of folk and instrumental music? These were my choice before reading this review :-s (glad i did tho, great review).  I wanted to play my folk at volumes for whole house when I had ti to myself but I scacly see the point with these guys if they slightly muffle the mids in their exuberance!

post #10 of 36

I know this is an old thread, but I was reading reviews on these speakers for one of my friends who is considering them, and there is one essential thing missing here: stands.  Of course the bass is going to be boomy when the speakers are mechanically coupled to your desk, and therefore, each other if the volume is high enough (and the tweeters are aimed at your chest to boot).  Stands and speaker placement make a huge difference, so it's something to keep in mind.  Other than that, great review!

Edited by AudioMan612 - 8/8/14 at 3:25pm
post #11 of 36
Originally Posted by AudioMan612 View Post

 Of course the bass is going to be boomy when the speakers are mechanically coupled to your desk

Decoupling is not a cure for boomy bass. Note that Audioengine does not make that claim for their stands. Placement in relation to boundaries and the listening position, or the speakers themselves, would be the cause of boomy bass. Any perceived difference from switching to stands would come from expectational bias and/or some slight adjustment of the speakers' positions relative to the boundaries and the listening position.

Now if the speakers have cabinet resonance issues, then yes. Stands can help to reduce the transference of that energy into one's desk, although something with isolation like MoPADs would be the best bet.
post #12 of 36

Yeah, I worded my post a bit badly in my rush.  I meant to imply that speaker placement is even more important, but stands are still essential for speakers like this.

post #13 of 36

These speakers need the break in period to sound their best. Muddled right out of the box.

I had to return the 1st set I bought...couldn't listen to them. Bought another set months later and let them break in slowly.

They didn't sound like the same speakers. Major improvement!!! With a good source these are very satisfying.

post #14 of 36

I just have a question. Which is a good DAC for A5 speaker. Someone replied to me on another board that Audioengine D1 24 Bit DAC is a good one. What about this one


Can someone please tell me which would be better. FiiO - E10K Olympus USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier

is a bit cheaper than D1 DAC. If u know better ones out there that  are good  inexpensive can u please reply thx

post #15 of 36

You don't have to worry as much about synergy with a DAC than you do with an amp.  A good DAC is a good DAC and should work well in any system as long as it's not outclassed (as in the weakest link in the chain).


I would recommend getting a DAC that has an output that doesn't have a volume attenuator.  The A5+'s have a built-in volume attenuator, so if you use a DAC with one as well, that means your signal is passing through two volume attenuators, which is unnecessary and has a possibility of slightly reducing the quality of you signal.

The D1 is a good DAC, though I wish you could bypass the volume control for the RCA outputs (again, the extra volume control could cause a loss of quality; however, if it did, it would be VERY small, so you might not even hear it).


I would recommend getting a Schiit Modi 2 Uber for a little less money than a D1 (you can also get the standard Modi 2, but if you can, I'd go for the upgraded version for the sake of the upgraded analog section).

Edited by AudioMan612 - 9/6/16 at 3:58am
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